Military Family, Food, & Fitness Fenestrations

Raising the Bar on Personal Expectation

Warm Soups

Our “reasonable price” for a home made upgrade requirements inevitable. Our single-wage-earner income restricts freedom to do so….at least until after we muscle through all the one-time-but-significant fees associated with purchasing a home in Germany (detailed blog post to come on that subject). Insulation is hanging from the unfinished ceiling of our toddler son’s room and he has no heat in there, but anyway there is currently no distinguishable temperature difference from the rest of the home being that we’ve run out of oil and spend evenings huddled around wood scraps the former owners left us.

Over the past couple weeks we’ve grown a deep appreciation for basic heat. We close the rouladen shades tightly at night, yell at each other when doors to infrequently-used rooms are left open, and though an infinitesimally-cracked door shove the dog in and out at tightly controlled intervals during the day so that he can answer nature’s call. Ah THIS is how Europeans live! I was informed by civil employees in charge of utilities (water & electricity) here in town that we would be charged a little more per month than the average German family in anticipation of our greater use of resources. We are American, after all. This actually might be one of the easiest areas where we can defy expectation and prejudice, but I dunno….we do have a sauna (yea)! We will keep you posted.

We’ve tried to use this experience to kindle a sense of adventure in our son. When he wakes and complains about the cold I explain we are living like early pioneers only much, much better: we have TV, a pressure cooker, running (cold) water, and one working automobile. No mortal danger sources surrounding this docile neighbourhood save from a 400% increase in traffic due to careening white Polish vans in search of hot SpärMüll deals. I’m not complaining – bulk trash pickup is only scheduled twice per year, and anyway we’ve personally benefited: I’ve found a perfectly good soccer ball and sturdy shopping basket people threw out on their curbs so far.

Anyway, no scarcity of subjects to blog about, and I will be regular now that we are moved in.

I mentioned the pressure cooker…. our stove (circa 1980) protests with a loud CREEEEEAK and flying rust each time we open the door. The electric cooktop is more emotional than even I – there are numbers on the dials but they don’t seem to correspond with any degree gradient of temperature increase. Of COURSE as you can imagine, my sladky-approval rating on cuisine has suffered accordingly, but I’ve come to rely on ole faithful pressure cooker. So in its honour, here are two soup recipes I made in the last two days which earned the highest rating from mein Mann just in time for Thanksgiving

Cauliflower Cheese and Mustard Soup I altered a recipe I found from Nigel Slater. Mine serves 2-3 if you use it as the main course.

1/5 slice from block of German bio (organic) butter (50g)
1 red onion sliced thin
3 cloves FRESH soft purple garlic (any garlic will do) minced
2 medium cauliflower, broken into florets
a small potato, sliced relatively thin
1-2 tbsp mustard
1 bio vegetable bouillon cube or homemade chicken or vegetable stock
4 cups water
salt
pepper
50g parmesan cheese, diced
50g Emmentaler cheese, diced
2 tbsp Crème fraîche

Melt the butter in the pressure cooker. Add the onion and garlic and fry until soft. Dump the cauliflower in and stir well to coat florets then add potato, mustard, bouillon and water, seal pressure cooker and find a good red wine….(I will blog soon about some excellent sources we found in our neighbourhood).

After about 10min on level II (or cook according to the settings/recommendations of your personal pressure cooker) I removed the soup from heat and released the steam. I threw in cheese chunks and used an immersion blender to blend before adding a little more pepper and a couple tablespoons of Crème fraîche. Nigel recommends frying bread cubes in butter (croutons) and sprinkling them on top (yum) but I forgot and we were hungry….remember everything is healthier without bread, anyway! We grilled steak and zucchini, and this soup was the perfect accompaniment.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

1/5 slice from block of German bio (organic) butter (50g)
3 cloves FRESH soft purple garlic (any garlic will do) minced
2 medium broccoli, broken into florets
a small potato, sliced relatively thin
1 bio vegetable bouillon cube or homemade chicken or vegetable stock
4 cups water
salt
pepper

Melt the butter in the pressure cooker. Add the garlic and fry until soft. Dump the broccoli in and stir well to coat florets then add potato, bouillon, and water, seal pressure cooker and cook for about 10 minutes on level II, or according to the settings/recommendations of your personal pressure cooker. Immersion blend and season to taste – I served with roasted chicken and mushrooms.

Enjoy!

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